Virtually possible: using telehealth to bring reproductive health care to women with opioid use disorder in rural Maine

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rural, Maine, Substance abuse, population health, MRHRC, Telehealth, opioid use disorder, OUD, family planning, reproductive health

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Maternal opioid use disorder (OUD) has increased more sharply in recent years among rural residents in the United States than among urban residents. In 2018, the prevalence of maternal OUD accounted for 3.5% of all hospital deliveries in Maine. Opioid use during pregnancy is associated with negative health effects for both the woman and infant. While many women with OUD use contraception, few report using a highly reliable method. The authors report on a pilot program in Maine aimed to increase reproductive health access for women with OUD via telehealth. They assessed the feasibility of this program through the following outcome measures: number of women who engaged with the community outreach educator, number of women who used telehealth services, and number of women who received services at a referred clinic during the six-month pilot. Their findings from this pilot program suggest that innovative health care models such as on-site provision of reproductive health care through telehealth have the potential to increase access to reproductive care for this hard-to-reach population.